A car is like a very expensive pet: sure, they can be a lot of fun, but they also come with a ton of responsibility. Most new drivers are unaware of many of the responsibilities associated with owning a car; mainly because most parents are also unfamiliar with them.
While proper car maintenance can be a tedious weekend activity, these seven tips will ensure that your car runs smoothly for a long time.
Check Your Tires
Thomas Jefferson once said, “Tires are the feet of cars, and we must always take care of our feet.” While nobody at the time knew what he was talking about, these words of wisdom hold up surprisingly well 700 years later. (You know we’re just kidding about Jefferson being a time traveling auto mechanic, right?)
The tire pressure of a car should always be at or around 30-32 PSI. Especially heading into cold weather season, tire pressure should be closely monitored, as cold air contracts and causes tires to run low.
If you have a slow leak in a tire, an easy way to find the damaged area is by covering the tire with a mixture of soap and water. The leaking air will blow bubbles in the mixture and show exactly where to patch.
Check Your Fluids
So many of the fluids under the hood are easily refilled, which is why keeping an eye on them can help prevent damage down the road. Brake fluid, steering fluid, wiper fluid, and coolant/anti-freeze (interestingly enough, this is the exact same liquid: it only changes names depending on the season), are all “fill as needed” fluids.
This means that unlike engine oil, which needs to be drained and replaced, these fluids can simply be added. Spending $9 at a Walgreens should get enough fluids to last for a decade, and ensure that just like a boy scout, you’ll always be prepared.
Change Your Oil
This one is really simple, as it doesn’t need to be performed personally. Simply bring your car into any nearby oil place, shell out 20 or 30 bucks, and catch up on some back issues of Car and Driver.
Low oil is the number one cause of excessive wear and tear on engines, greatly reducing their life and making your emissions smell bad. Although many experts agree that the standard 3,000 mile rule can be stretched to 4,500, everyone agrees that waiting much longer is asking for trouble.
Change your blades
The term “windshield” is outdated. Sure, it does a great job of shielding the wind, but its primary function is really more of a “road viewer.” Without adequate wiping ability, it will be nearly impossible to view any road in even the lightest of storms.
Windshield wiper blades should be changed often, but there is no time limit that applies to all vehicles, since it comes down to how often they are used. If in doubt, use the following test: in a rainstorm, turn on the windshield wipers. If you can’t see the road, get new ones. If you think you need new blades, you probably do.
Listen to the Brakes
Many people ignore the screeching sound of their brakes until their car no longer functions. Other people worry that once they hear screeching, their brakes have worn all the way down to the rotors, and are currently ruining their car. The truth lies somewhere in between.
Brake pad manufacturers keep idiots in mind when designing their products, which is why almost every pad in existence keeps an audible layer buried deep inside it. The sound of squealing brakes is not the sound of metal on metal, but rather a warning system designed to inform the driver that their brake life is limited.
Ironically, once the squealing stops, the danger really begins, as that means the driver has worn through the warning layer and is about to destroy their brake rotors. When the tires start screaming, it’s time to answer their calls for help.
Keep a Full Tank
Now while this may seem like a no-brainer (gas makes cars go), there is a hidden danger in not doing this, particularly in cold weather places. Gasoline, in many ways, is like a fine wine. Both keep you warm on a cold night, both get more expensive as time goes by, and in large quantities, neither freezes.
In smaller quantities however, both are capable of turning solid, which can spell disaster for fuel systems. Running on fumes in the winter is far more common than in the summer, since getting gas in the winter is such a pain.
However, running on fumes could put a nasty crack in your fuel line, and possibly wreck your fuel injectors. Buying a pair of gloves and bearing the cold gas station is a far better alternative, and should be strived for at all costs.
Keep a Clean Car
Cleanliness is next to Godliness, and rustiness is gross. Washing and waxing a car not only makes it look sharp, but it also provides protection.
Waxing a car improves fuel economy and the overall look of a car, but it also protects the body from rust and salt damage. By keeping a clean and waxed car, drivers can ensure that their bodies last much longer and retain their overall value.
Although performing routine maintenance can be annoying, it is a necessity just like car insurance, for those hoping to avoid looking like n00bs when it comes to their cars. While these tips are simple, they are also effective, and following them will ensure great results for years to come.